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Budget 2014: the good, the bad and the Ebbsfleet

The key elements as far as construction was concerned were housing and infrastructure but, once again, energy-efficiency retrofit was a glaring omission.

Going into this Budget, we already knew about the extension of Help to Buy and 15,000 homes in Ebbsfleet, which in itself was already a reannouncement.

The extension of Help to Buy part one is good news as it has been a success by enabling more demand and giving housebuilders the confidence to build more without harming margins.

The key concern was what happened when it finished but that issue has been put off till March 2020.

The government’s press release for the ‘garden city’ at Ebbsfleet describes it as ‘only 19 minutes from Central London’ so it doesn’t appear to be generating a new ‘community’.

The chancellor did announce a new £500m Builders Finance Fund, which will provide loans to developers to unlock stalled sites, which is good news although government has announced previous schemes to unlock stalled sites and they haven’t worked. Let’s hope this does better.

As for infrastructure, £140m for flood defences and £200m for potholes is vital to meet short-term needs.

In the longer term, government provided additional clarity through the National Infrastructure Plan finance update, which, interestingly, points out that there are few opportunities for private investment into new infrastructure outside of energy and explain why the majority of announcements we’ve had over the past few years about billions of private investment into infrastructure haven’t converted into work on the ground.

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